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How to Manage Your Classroom Effectively

Maintaining a classroom full of children who are of about the same age but differ greatly in personalities, abilities and preferences is one of the most challenging jobs of all. You want to have the class as orderly as possible so you can communicate to them and so everyone who has something of his or her own to contribute can also do so effectively. Some students may not be interested in what you teach, in which case they must be convinced of its relevance . Some of them, too, will be downright disruptive and must be dealt with so as to enable the class to go on. This article is all about maintaining a classroom adequately.

You are not their friend; you are their teacher

This is the most important thing for you to remember. What it entails is that you must not concern yourself with whether students like you or not, but whether they respect you.

Making sure the students listen

It is important to see that every student in the classroom is paying attention because otherwise their inattentiveness will not be realized until they fail tests or otherwise cannot answer questions. (I would dose off in class quite often when I was a child and my teachers often had to shout, “…and that goes for you too, Josh!”) If you find that some of them are consistently behaving like that, take their names down and have them stay after class to discuss the problem. Tell them that if they persist in their behavior you will have to tell their parents.

The connection between seating and discipline

Where students sit in relation to each other can have a tremendous effect on the ability of the teacher to maintain discipline. I personally remember the seating arrangement in my music class when I was eight: They were alternated according to sex. If there are any two students who demonstrate that they become disruptive when seated together, they should be placed far apart.

Corporal punishment

When you are in your capacity as teacher, you are given the authority to act in loco parentis, which involves the judicious use of corporal punishment. It should not, however, be either the first or the last resort in disciplining children: If it is the first resort then you will gain a reputation for being quick to punish, while if it is your last resort you will be using it when you are “at the end of your rope” and may not be able to exercise the self-discipline that is necessary to discipline others.

Open vs. closed classrooms

Since the 1970s there has been much controversy between two groups of experts according to the type of classroom environment they believe will be more effective at teaching students what they need to know. On the one hand there are “back-to-basics” educators who favor traditional, formal classroom settings, while on the other there are those who prefer the freedom of less structured, student-centered open classrooms. In such a setting, the students are divided into groups according to their skill levels in a given subject, in contrast to having a single teacher in charge of the entire classroom. They work together to achieve the objectives that have been assigned to them, with the teacher serving as an instructor and a facilitator.

Those in favor of open classrooms feel that they allow students to learn in ways best suited to their own individual personalities and also that they enable teachers to collaborate more efficiently with each other and teach as teams. A study conducted in 1975 revealed that students who have low levels of anxiety do better in open classroom settings than in traditional ones, whereas no significant difference could be seen for those with high levels of anxiety. Open classroom pupils also scored higher on tests that measured preference for change and novelty.

For further reading

You can find more information on keeping your classroom in order by purchasing the modules that are available at Starla’s Teach Tips. The modules come in the following packages:

- First Year Tips: With this package, the novice teacher no longer needs to wait three years before she or he knows how to use a seating chart to make discipline easier or eliminate problems that often occur at the doorway.

-Starting School: A large part of this module is devoted to making an expectation sheet before the first day, with a separate copy being made for each student to receive and sign. This sheet becomes a sort of “contract” between the teacher and the pupils. A sample is given on the page for this module.

-Successful Subs and Student Trips: Since it is common for classes to go on field trips, it is only natural that Starla’s should have put together a package that is all about making such trips enjoyable and memorable, not to mention safe and secure.

-Handling the Challenging Student! (a.k.a. “the T.U.R.D.”): T.U.R.D. stands for students who Terrorize and Undermine and are Rude and Disrespectful. Module number four shows how to deal proactively with all problems that such unruly youth might pose, from forgetting their materials to not letting the teachers do their job.

-phone docks: Here is something quite different from all of the other products that Starla’s has to offer. These phone docks are designed to regulate the use of cell phones in the classroom by providing a place for students to store theirs so that they can use them if needed.

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